Lexington ordinance aimed at reducing panhandling now in effect
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- After months of renewed effort to reduce panhandling in Lexington, a new law is now in effect. While it does not expressly target panhandlers, it makes it hard to ask for money on the street. Many people hope that will make Lexington’s busy streets safer.
In February the State Supreme Court struck down Lexington’s panhandling ban, calling it a violation of free speech. Since then, the city has “cracked down” in new ways.
“Sometimes, you can do more good by not giving,” a PSA says.
In addition to the PSA, the City has installed road signs that discourage giving to panhandlers plus Lexington is helping support a van that picks up panhandlers and puts them to work.
Now, comes a new piece of legislation prohibiting pedestrians from walking in the street, approaching cars, or standing in the median of 75 busy Lexington roads.
It does not expressly target panhandlers, but Jeffrey Ford, says targeted is exactly how he feels.
“People’s right to give whatever they want to give,” he said.
Under the new ordinance, it is still legal to hold up a sign, asking for money as long as you are on the sidewalk, but if you step into the street to collect money, or for any other reason, you could get in trouble
Jeffrey Ford says he is homeless and struggles to find work. He admits he uses some of the money he is given on drugs.
He says he used to make about $150 a day. Lately, it is just $50. He blames that on the City’s efforts to reduce panhandling.
He says if people want to give him money, he should be allowed to walk into the street to get it.
Lawmakers and police say the new law is not just about panhandling, but about keeping people safe. The city says 20% of vehicle fatalities last year involved pedestrians.
Marilyn Jernigan says she she will feel safer because there could be less panhandling.
“If they can’t come over to my car then that would make me feel safer,” Jernigan said.
As for ford, he says officers have already warned him about the new law. Will he follow it? He says he will not.
As of the close of business Monday, Lexington police told ABC 36 they had not heard of any citations given out yet. If you violate the new ordinance, you could face hundreds of dollars in fines.